One of the Real Housewives in Atlanta (who is not actually a wife, but a mistress with a disastrous hair weave) pretended to have cancer. When asked by Bravo TV if it was true that she had cancer, she nodded slightly and put her head down sadly. She mainly put her head down to avoid further questions since it turned out she never had cancer and finally admitted that she had never had cancer. The blogs went crazy with the revelation.
A woman in Tennessee, Keele Maynor, was recently arrested for pretending to have breast cancer for several years. The charges are theft and forgery. She accepted cash donations from co-workers, as well as a total of 194 days of paid leave (these days were donated by her colleagues at the office of the City of Chattanooga where she was employed and were worth approximately $18,000).
Once caught, she resigned in December of 2008 but the charges were not filed until recently. The woman, now 38, claims she did have cancer years ago, but is not sure why she felt the need to lie and accept money and donations from co-workers and cancer support groups. She says she is seeing a therapist in order to try to figure out why she spent five years pretending to have the disease.
We spend so much of our lives trying to proactively stay healthy. We read about preventative care, get annual physicals and heave a sigh of relief when the good results come back. So why on earth would anyone actually pretend to have a serious illness?
Some do it simply for profit. Others have a disorder called Munchausen Syndrome - a mental condition whereby people feign illness in order to gain attention, or money or profit in some other way. The payoff is usually tremendous for the people faking the illness. They get a sympathetic ear, constant attention, gifts, cards, emails, money and the time and energy of medical professionals. An area where this syndrome is growing is the Internet. Support groups for people with hundreds of different diseases and conditions are easily accessible and the payoff is often just as good – and actual - as in real life. People have been sent checks, money orders, clothing and supplies, as well as endless on line hugs, emails, letters and attention.
No dummies are they! People who fake these illnesses are actually quite smart. They are well-read in the areas of their “conditions” and know how to talk the talk. They know how they should sound, feel and look. They use medical terms and go as far as to shave their heads and eyebrows to prove that they are receiving treatment. Even more disturbing – websites abound in helping people fake their diseases. The woman in Tennessee is not alone – instances of faking illness are common. A word of caution when joining forums online and offering support to those undergoing treatment for illness: don’t assume everyone on-line is telling the truth. Guard your wallet, your emotions and your privacy.
I was a member of a very well known parenting board once. A long time member broke the news that her young niece had died and she wanted flowers for the child’s grave. She was given about $200 from concerned members and several days later it emerged that there had never been a child – dead or otherwise. The member left the site immediately (or she may have returned as someone else) but had certainly gained much sympathy, attention and money with her lies. I didn’t donate, and never would under these circumstances, but can somewhat understand how first time or new mothers could be so despicably deceived. It was a hard lesson learned by all.
According to Dr. Marc D Feldman, an expert in factitious illnesses, there are signs on the Internet when someone is faking it:
1. the posts consistently duplicate material in other posts, in books, or on health-related websites;
2. the characteristics of the supposed illness emerge as caricatures;
3. near-fatal bouts of illness alternate with miraculous recoveries;
4. claims are fantastic, contradicted by subsequent posts, or flatly disproved;
5. there are continual dramatic events in the person's life, especially when other group members have become the focus of attention;
6. there is feigned blitheness about crises (e.g., going into septic shock) that will predictably attract immediate attention;
7. others apparently posting on behalf of the individual (e.g., family members, friends) have identical patterns of writing.
Do you know someone who has faked illness for attention or profit? Do you use online forums for certain conditions or illnesses and feel that not everyone may be truthful about their health?
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Add a Comment98 Comments
My daughter and I have SLE and to hear someone faking it makes me sick and sad. I would love to give my illness to someone who wants sympathy, I'd rather have my life back. Satan has dibs on this womans soul.August 19, 2014 - 12:48am
It really doesn't matter if she was faking it or not, she is a black cloud and you should avoid people like that. personally I notice if someone complains all the time they are in pain and their life is unlivable, and doesn't kill themselves or die, they are usually faking it. I have all sorts of health problems, but I don't share them with others unless asked because people don't generally care. Be glad she moved out.April 23, 2013 - 12:10pm
I appreciate that this is a site for talking about those faking illness, however, we should never confuse chronic pain with faking. There are an handful of conditions that create debilitating lifelong pain, I myself live with a patient in such a condition, not to mention it is progressive, she now has complete lower limb paralysis, colostomy and urostomy, the disease has destroyed her bladder, one kidney, and she went through menopause at the age of 27 and permanent freezing of 3 fingers and one wrist. It would be said for people to treat such a brave individual who is suffering so much pain like a 'faker'.December 6, 2015 - 4:55pm
Hey all,January 4, 2013 - 7:42am
I'm a little late in posting, and a little unsure of posting at all. I'm not a doctor, and my sister has never been diagnosed with well, anything, so I'm not even sure that whatever she's doing is related to this disorder.
My sister, in the last five years, seems to have been getting really sick with various illnesses. It started off with little things. Getting medical attention for Migraines, pain throughout her body, bone aches. Then it progressed. Endometriosis (forgive my spelling), which oddly, occurred right around the same time my cousin was diagnosed. Scoliosis, which my mom has had since she was 15--which could be possible because it's hereditary. My mom of course was very sympathetic, because she knows that it feels. Naturally, my sister receives a lot of attention from her whenever her back, or neck hurts. The red flag came to me about two months ago. My sister told my family she was shaving her head to support her friend who came down with Cancer. A friend she hasn't talked to, and we haven't seen for years. Apparently, they were pretty tight again. Facebook photos of my sister with a shaved head started popping up, with vague captions such as "Cancer sucks!" and the like. I got phone call from my cousin. My sister had told her that she had Cancer. I told my mom about it (who by the way, assumes that I just hate my sister, and pine for the joy of getting her in trouble--I'm 24, not 12, but that doesn't seem to faze my ever endearing mother). My mom confronted my sister about it. My sister demanded to know who told my mom, and made vague threats about how people just need to mind their own business. I get on facebook this morning, and see posts from my sister begging people to go to the doctor's with her for the intense pain she's feeling coming from her jaw or ear or something (she's a little hard to follow). "First thing when bub wakes up! Hospital to make them figure out what this thing is. Wont even let me sleep bc if I lay my head slightly to the left BLAM worst pain...never felt such constant pain" ---actual quote. Little why later, she tells someone that it looks like a "boney tumor".
I don't know. Maybe I need to grow up and I AM looking to get my sister in trouble, like my mother says. It's just sets something off in me. A part of me wants to confront her, a part of me says that I could be way wrong, and maybe she is sick. I guess what I'm asking through this incredibly long post (sorry!) is if her behavior is normal (she's 22 years old) .
I know you are probably going to think I am stupid, crazy, and should kill myself. But I know for a fact I have Munscheans Syndrome. I am 14. I have been wanting to seek attention my wole life. I am adopted and dont have any depression or mental issues at all except for maybe suicide thoughts here and there. I have been in and out of the ER my whole life. For some reason, I dont know what or why, I love doctors. I am obsessed with childhood cancer. I lie to my best friends saying I have had other friends with cancer that died. I make up stories that are somewhat off of other kids cancer stories. I have even told my friends I have had leukemia. I want cancer really really bad. I even bruise myself and etc to make it look as if I have the sysmtoms of the cancer I want. I google and research a lot. I have a "small" medical condition where I bleed internally and I have had repeated CT scans, bloodwork, and x-rays to maybe cure me. No results. But I really want cancer. My folks dont even know any of this. I am very consisant with stories. Maybe I will mess up here and there. I know I have issues, I just cant cure it myself because I am always at the hospital, wether I like it or not. I may be good with not harming myself to go to the hospital, but every night, I dream that I will get cancer and attention. I will not go to the doctor for this. My parents will think I'm crazy and when I'm really in pain, they wont believe me. What do I do?January 2, 2013 - 11:20pm
Yep, following a guy on facebook atm who is faking leukemia. Those who know him KNOW he doesn't have it, its just that he has written a book and self published it and the sales he thought he would get arn't happening so he is now faking it to gain attention for book sales. Its most sad, and its going to get him in a lot of trouble shortly.September 26, 2012 - 6:25am
Thisis the first time that I have ever joined a blog. I have nowhere to vent my frustrations, so here it goes. I am engaged to the love of my life. We will be married in two weeks. This is the happiest I have ever been. I love, love this man! He is abosultely wonderful. Then theres his dad. He is a retired prior military vet that never remarried after divorcing my fiance's mother over 25 yrs ago. He has a very shady past as well. In the midst of a huge custody battle with my fiance's mother and stepfather, he decides to take it upon himself to drug his only son who was nine years old at the time and have a makeup artist paint bruises all over his body, to make it appear as if his step-father had beaten him. Well he would have gotten away with this if he hadnt decided to brag about to his girlfriend at the time. She secretly recorded him and turned the evidence over to authorities.May 3, 2012 - 4:53pm
A german girl stalked my 16 year old daughter on the internet. The german girl pretended to be dying of a serious heart condition. She said she needed thousands of pounds to have an operation in Germany which would save her life. She said if she could come to Scotland, she would get the operation free on the NHS. She conned a famous pop star into paying for her flight over to Scotland. She came to live with our family. We gave her everything. She lay in her bed most days but refused to go to the doctor. Eventually we took her to the doctor and she went for a heart ultrasound scan. This was 6 months later and she had lived for free and been waited on hand and foot and given lots of atttention. The scan was clear. She was 100 per cent healthy! She was however a liar. She admitted pretending to be dying for attention and free living costs and accomodation and money from the pop star and us. However when we confronted her she went mad and hit me and my daughter and the police were called and she w as charged with two counts of assault. She is now conning another lovely kind girl in the same town and living off her pretending to be her best friend and that she has asthma. She doesesnt have asthma as she posted her peak flow rates online and a doctor commented that they were normal and she did not have asthma. My heart goes out to this lovely young woman who is so kind that the german girl Jessica is conning now but what can I do? She is also posting lots of hateful lies on the internet about her father breaking her spine (which her own sister said was a lie and never happened) and lies about us hitting her which did not happen as she w as the one charged with assault. She is very evil and showed no remorse whatsoever when challenged with the truth. Beware world of this evil conwoman who is only 19 years of age.April 26, 2012 - 8:50am
my best friend does this all the time. She is 18 and insisted she had cushings disease & was going to go through chemo therapy. I let her come over to me an my bfs house all the time, even when I was sick, just to help her out. Well, one day I asked about it, and suddenly it "mysteriously dissapeared". She claims she was raped at 12. I didn't really believe her, but her mother confirmed it..and the hospital I met her at was for a suicide attempt in result of the rape. She insists she is always sick with something. Her mother says she behaves absolutely crazy at home--even claims her father hits her, and she attacked her mother once, she went right for her throat (mother told me). I love my best friend very much, but she needs to get under control.
How can I help her?October 6, 2011 - 9:37am
Yes it is an outlandish crazy story, but true. I agree I think she may be doing the same thing to some other guy now, as you are correct people like that don't generally change.
My husband was guilty of having the affair and choosing to believe her crazy stories. He said he felt trapped by all the insanity. She was very believable and went to great lengths to suck him in. I'm NOT defending him in any way. He made the choice to cheat, something he will have to live with the rest of his life. He also has to live with the guilt of being duped by this woman, and how she played on his sympathies and controlled the relationship by pretending to have cancer. No question she played him and he allowed it!
Sometimes it takes something horrific to get your attention. It has been 21/2 years since the affair ended, and our marriage is fabulous now. We immediately went into therapy and committed ourselves to doing the work needed to fix us. We are happier than we have ever been. I think people lose sight of what is important, especially when you have been married for a long time. We will be married 30 years next month. We have 3 beautiful children, our family is whole! People need to work on their marriage in order for it to be balanced and healthy. I know many of my friends are now divorcing after almost 3 decades of marriage. A happy marriage takes work everyday. Too many of us work at everything but our marriages and then find themselves in a sad a lonely place and wonder how they arrived at this place. Do we both wish the affair never happened? ABSOLUTELY! But it did and we can't go back and change the past. We now find ourselves in a much better place. Marriages do survive infidelity. But you both have to be willing to the work, and put your marriage first.October 6, 2011 - 8:00am